Hastings-Guilin Sister City relationship
The Hastings relationship with the Chinese city Guilin started in 1977, after a research scientist, Dr Don McKenzie identified a number of common areas of interest between the two cities, including horticulture and their rural-urban mix.
The Hastings City Council took up Dr Don's suggestion to establish a sister city relationship, and approached the Chinese Embassy in Wellington in October 1978. In July 1980 Liang Shan, Mayor of Guilin, invited a Hastings delegation to visit his city to discuss the proposal.
The Hastings-Guilin sister city protocol was signed on March 4, 1981 by founding Mayors Jim O'Connor and Liang Shan. This was the first sister-city agreement between a New Zealand and Chinese City, and has continued to be a model for many sister-city relationships around New Zealand.
The relationship aims to build and increase work and cultural exchanges between the two cities, social, economic, educational, and political understanding and since 1985, the relationship has included the following initiatives:
- Regular Goodwill Delegation exchanges (11 since 1980) and regular visits by business and education sector leaders
- A horticultural technician scheme to Hastings (13 placements since 1986)
- An English-language teacher scheme to Guilin (there have been regular placements since 1987)
- Other inter-school/education links including three sister school relationships
- An education resource kit on Guilin and China for local school use
- Cultural exhibitions both from Hastings to Guilin, and Guilin to Hastings
- Local promotion of sister-city knowledge and awareness
- Tourist visits to Guilin
- Facilitation of commercial and trade information contacts
- Information and experience exchange in Local Government, Agriculture, Horticulture, Industry, Tourism and Education
Guilin is one of China's smaller urban centres, now modernising rapidly. It has become the third most popular tourist destination in China after the Great Wall and the Buried Army.
It is also an ancient historical centre with a district renowned for its breathtaking and picturesque scenery, and also a historical and cultural city of great significance.
Its urban infrastructure is improving steadily and it attracts considerable investment, both domestic and overseas.
Guilin is found in the north-eastern part of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 150 metres above sea level, and about a fifty-minute flight inland from Guangzhou (Canton). Guilin has an abundant rainfall of around 1900 millimetres a year and a mild climate.
It is not freezing cold in the winter, nor excessively hot in summer, having around 309 frost free days and more than 1550 hours of sunshine each year. The yearly mean temperature is 19 degrees Celsius.
The Municipal territory embraces an area of 4,195 square kilometres.
Guilin has a rich and long culture and heritage, dating back more than 2,000 years.
The construction of the canal linking the Xiangjiang and Lijiang rivers in 214BC for the purpose of conveying military supplies, saw Guilin begin to develop a geographic and strategic importance.
Some splendid cultural relics and historical sites have been found and maintained and today, 109 of them are under official government protection. These include fossils of human teeth dating back 50,000 years, stone implements, earthenware, ancient graves and skeletons 10,000 years old, stone carvings and buildings.
Well over 1.3 million people live in the Guilin Municipality, a local government territory spanning both urban and rural communities. Guilin city itself has a population of more than half a million people living within 565 square kilometres. The region's population is made up of the majority Han people, and minority groups such as Zhuang, Miao and Hui.
The local authority, Guilin Municipal Peoples Government, incorporates the city of Guilin, 12 counties and five town districts.
Its governing system includes a mayor, nine deputy-mayors, and a comprehensive set of departmental management. Local government has embarked upon a strong tourist growth strategy over the last ten years, including urban infrastructure improvements, high-quality hotel and commercial developments, promotion and the launch of an international tourist festival in 1992.
In September 1998 the city and region of Guilin were merged together enlarging Guilin by 5.6 times in area. The Government believes that the amalgamation will benefit the protection of the world-famous Lijiang River, facilitate the planning, development and construction of the Greater Guilin tourist zone.
Agriculture and Industry
Guilin has around 64,000 hectares of cultivated land. Major crops include paddy rice, bamboo, sugar cane, persimmons, pomelos, oranges, water-chestnuts (which have a popular demand in Hong Kong), tangerines, loquats and pears.
In recent years great importance has been placed on the reorganisation of agricultural production with new technology and scientific advances being taken advantage of, wherever possible.
Bases have been set up at various locations to specialise in the production of cash crops. Forestry, fishing and animal husbandry are growing in importance and the rural economy of Guilin is steadily expanding.
Guilin is a rising industrial city with key areas of production including electronic goods such as televisions and microwave communication radar, rubber tyres, machinery and tools, luxury buses, local crafts and embroidery and food.
Other key areas of initiative lie in the development of Science and Technology and Education. The city is home to 22 research institutes and has more than 54,000 people employed in the industry. Guilin plays a leading role for China in applying electronic technology in the fields of new materials, biotechnology and fire chemical engineering.
Guilin has 725 educational institutes including 15 universities and colleges, 20 specialist secondary schools and 500 high schools. Guilin was among the first cities in China to accomplish the national goal of wiping out illiteracy and introducing a programme of 9 years of compulsory education.
Diverse and attractive features thrive in the Guilin area. The limestone karst physique of the local landscape, weathered and scoured over countless time, has taken the shape of forests of craggy peaks, winding rivers, solitary summits, caves and underground streams.
They surely rank as some of the most spectacular and moving sights in the world, including an almost magical journey to view the scenery of the Lijiang (the Li River), and the colour-lit stalagmites and stalactites of the Reed Flute Cave and Seven Star Caves (1,000 metres in length).
Accommodation, meals and tours are of a high standard, and since 1973, visitor numbers to Guilin have multiplied with domestic tourists at more than 9,000,000 and overseas topping 1 million p.a.
For more information phone 06 871 5000